For 2 sopranos and one mezzo-soprano
Wintra was composed for and premiered by ModernMedieval in April 2019. It is a setting of excerpts from the original Anglo-Saxon texts, with modern English translations by Aaron Hostetter, which he has created as a part of the Rutgers University Anglo-Saxon Narrative Poetry Project. The text I chose for this piece was inspired by an article by Alexandra Harris that was published in The Guardian titled “Making the Weather in English Writing.” Harris writes that she “spent a summer reading Anglo-Saxon poetry and chronicles. The fascination with frost seemed to run so deep that even the language was frozen into its forms: wintercearig, winterbiter, wintergeweorþe. Where was the sun? I kept reading, waiting for the spring. It came in the lyric poems of the 13th century...”.
Reading through Anglo-Saxon texts, there are many mentions of wintry terms, but no mentions of any of the other seasons. For Wintra, I have taken all of the mentions of “winters” (used as a substitute for “years”) from Beowulf, combined them with Aaron Hostetter’s translations, and organized the excerpts by the number of winters. Writing this piece, I wanted to capture the stillness and intimate sounds of a frozen landscape, and a cyclical sense of time as the winters pass.